La Lanterna Traditional LigurianPranzo di Ferragosto at, 31 Redcliffe Parade, Redcliffe Q

Alex wanted us to taste some of the specialities of his home region of Liguria, that narrow ribbon of spectacular country between the mountains and the sea, and so this is how it went:

For those Slow Fooders who met outside La Lanterna restaurant on the Wednesday Show holiday Queensland was putting on a perfect winter’s day.  It was warm and sunny with not a cloud in the sky and the view over Moreton Bay to Moreton Island was beautiful.

Alex and his staff had the tables set and the antipasti ready for us.  We started with Frisceu, a traditional treat made of a fried dough with herbs, usually eaten for the festival of St Joseph (15thMarch).  Next we had the Farinata, which is the street food that is typical of Genova.  It is made of chickpea flour and was topped with spring onions.  Alex let us try a version of focaccia developed in Recco where they put a soft fresh cheese like stracchino between two thin sheets of focaccia dough. Focaccia is famous throughout Italy, but it originated in Liguria. the stories behind each of the antipasti were shared with us in a most entertaining manner.

With our antipasto we had a glass of Pigato. Alessandro, the sommelier, explained that Pigato is only from Liguria but it is related to Vermentino from Sardinia. 

The pasta, of course, was the centre-piece of the meal. Alex’s staff had made wonderful light potato gnocchi and they served it with a pesto imported from Prà. This is where they grow the special basil to make pesto alla Genovese.  The pesto in this dish had a wonderful minty taste, and with all the variations of pesto available it was great to try the original one.

With the pasta we had a glass of Rossese.  This grape, which grows mainly in the Italian and French Riviera, produces strong aromatic wines that are common in Genova but rare anywhere else.

The dessert was Sacripantina, which was invented and patented by a chef in Genova in 1851.  It is a made of layers of sponge and different flavoured crema pasticceria. With our dessert we had a passito Moscato from Sardinia, which was delicious.

Slow Food Brisbane would like to thank Alex, Daniella and all the other helpers, and also our sommelier Alessandro, who made our excursion to Redcliffe, to experience the best of Liguria, so special.  For anyone who missed the lunch or if you want to go back, La Lanterna is open every night from Wednesday to Sunday and also for Sunday lunch.  Phone Alex on 3142 3150.  If you are interested in the wines we drank, you can phone Alessandro on 0439 040 234

Ian McBride Slow Food Brisbane and the 
Dante Alighieri Society of Brisbane